Y2K: Bennett to Testify that Half of Hospitals Not Ready
Half of U.S. hospitals, particularly those in rural areas, will not be Y2K compliant by the end of the millennium, according to Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT). The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Bennett will tell a Senate committee today that "the health care industry must be prepared 'regardless of the cost, regardless of what it takes.'" But it may take the reversal of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act to achieve those goals, according to Utah-based Rural Health Management Corp. CEO Mark Stoddard, who will testify that because the administrators of rural facilities have "no way to make up for the losses" brought on by the BBA, "the federal government is at least partially to blame for hospitals not being Y2K ready." The Tribune reports that Stoddard "plans to ask that the federal government re-evaluate reimbursement rates for rural hospitals so they not only will have more funds to address potential problems resulting from Y2K, but also will be able to survive financially" (Wagner, 6/10).
Fifteen hospitals in Augusta, GA, "have put competition aside" to prepare for Y2K, "coordinating staffing and schedules and pledging to share critical supplies." Medical College of Georgia Y2K project director Dwain Shaw said the area's Community Health Care Awareness Team "is believed to be one of only two in the country to coordinate health care services within a community to address Y2K." He added, "You can't do this behind the walls of your organization and be successful." In addition to coordinating equipment and information management fixes, hospitals have agreed to not hoard supplies like latex gloves, "share if there is a shortage," pool some of their employees from mid-December to mid-January and "cooperat[e] on educating the public that despite the doomsday predictions, the hospitals are in good shape" (Corwin, Augusta Chronicle, 6/9).